Never before have I empathised with a nursery rhyme character. I always thought Bo must have been a sloppy shepherdess to lose her sheep so carelessly. I owe her an apology. I’d had my sheep for less than 24 hours before I lost them, although unlike Little Bo Peep I did know where to find them as I saw them hurdle the fence, disappear through a gap in the hedge and head for the hills, tail not so much wagging as kicking up metaphorical dust into my face. Not a great start to my shepherding career. It wasn’t entirely my fault. It was early in the morning, and unlike Bo in her frock and carrying her crook I was wearing pyjamas and carrying stale bread, plus I wasn’t expecting to find sheep in the pig field, or rather I was expecting a delivery of sheep but wasn’t expecting the farmer to slip them into the field under cover of night. I’m not sure who was more startled at first, the sheep or Teri, but the flock of three took one look at the dog and exited stage left. Obviously, only ever having met real collie’s up until this point, the flock were not to know that Teri has no interest in sheep and considered them nothing more than an inconvenient obstacle barring the well worn route to her beloved pigs. Never having seen a sheep in flight before, the ease with which each one sailed over the new fencing rather took me by surprise. There was nothing for it, I’d have to drag Dave out of bed and head off in search of my errant flock of three.
Having located the woolly escapees in the corner of the next field, it took an hour to slowly, slowly corral them back into our field via the most circuitous route possible. After breakfast it was straight out with the barbed wire, hammer and staples to raise the height of the fencing.
Needless to say Teri remained locked in the kitchen for the duration of this endeavour. You won’t be seeing her and Dave in the World Sheepdog Trails any time soon, unless the event is changed to include pulling blankets through tiny tyres, aggravating cat flaps or trading sticks for balls. Steve and Charlie joined the party though – perhaps there’s a market for a show called One Man & His Two Cats, “cwm by”, “lie down”, herding mice into a box - I’ll get on the phone to Channel 5 ….
If I’m honest, I haven’t warmed to Babs, Margo & Myfanwy (yes, the flock have now been named). It’s hard to engage with an animal that insists on keeping its distance. Mostly I see woolly bums moving away from me, or ears pricking up and eyes peering suspiciously at me over the grass. The pen has been constructed but stands empty, the sheep nuts have been bought but remain uneaten. Plans are afoot to rectify this though. Enter the electric fence!
- Little Bo-peep fell fast asleep,
- And dreamt she heard them bleating;
- But when she awoke, she found it a joke,
- For they were still a-fleeting.
- Then up she took her little crook,
- Determined for to find them;
- She found them indeed, but it made her heart bleed,
- For they'd left their tails behind them.
- It happened one day, as Bo-peep did stray
- Into a meadow hard by,
- There she espied their tails side by side,
- All hung on a tree to dry.
- She heaved a sigh and wiped her eye,
- And over the hillocks went rambling,
- And tried what she could, as a shepherdess should,
- To tack each again to its lambkin.